Are you thinking of becoming a freelance solicitor UK? If you do become a freelance solicitor, how do you set about winning clients so that your freelance solicitor business flourishes? Let’s take a look….
My name is Nick Jervis. I am a former solicitor (1991 – 2003) but have been marketing legal services full time since 2003. I have published the Amazon Bestselling (and best reviewed) legal services marketing book, The Law Firm Growth Formula: How smart solicitors attract more of the right clients at the right price to grow their law firm quickly. I have spent over £300,000 of my own money generating new clients for solicitors and manage a spend in excess of £2 million per annum generating new clients for my legal clients. I share this with you so that you understand my background and might give me a few minutes of your time to read this article and download the accompanying guide.
What Is A Freelance Solicitor?
- practising on their own, and does not employ anyone else in connection with the services they provide
- practising in their own name (rather than under a trading name or through a service company)
- engaged directly by clients with fees payable directly to them
without that practise being authorised.
Which Services Prevent You Operating As A Freelance Solicitor
- Immigration Services; or
- Claims Management Services; or
- Regulated financial services; and
- are not regulated by another suitable regulator.
There are also restrictions in relation to reserved legal services.
Reserve Legal Services And Freelance Solicitor
Reserved legal services include:
- The exercsie of a right of audience
- The conduct of litigation
- Reserved instrument activities
- Probate activities
- Notarial activities
- The administration of oaths.
If you wish to carry out these services as a freelance solicitor, then these rules (S10.2(b) of the SRA Authorisation Of Individuals Regulations apply. If you otherwise would be, you will not be regarded as acting as a sole practitioner and you will not therefore need to be authorised as a recognised sole practice if: a) your practice consists entirely of carrying on activities which are not reserved legal activities; or b)any reserved legal activities you carry on are provided through an authorised body or an authorised non-SRA firm, or in circumstances in which you:
- have practised as a solicitor for a minimum of three years since admission or registration;
- are self-employed and practise in your own name, and not through a trading name or service company;
- do not employ anyone in connection with the services that you provide;
- are engaged directly by the client with your fees payable directly to you;
- have a practising address in the UK;
- take out and maintain indemnity insurance that provides adequate and appropriate cover in respect of the services that you provide or have provided, whether or not they comprise reserved legal activities, taking into account any alternative arrangements you or your clients may make; and
- do not hold client money, save that you may hold money which falls within the category of client money set out in rule 2.1(d) of the SRA Accounts Rules so long as:
- any money held for disbursements relates to costs or expenses incurred by you on behalf of your client and for which you are liable; and
- you have informed your client in advance of where and how the money will be held,
and you choose for your practice not to be authorised as a recognised sole practice.
Sole Practitioner Or Freelance Solicitor
Now you have a new way of being able to practise on your own, should you become a freelance solicitor or a Sole Pracitioner. Largely, this will depend on your ambitions. If you want to create a lifestyle business, work from home, not employ anyone and replace your current salary, then the freelance solicitor opportunity might be just the thing you are looking for, so long as you meet the requirements above. I can see this appealing to many people, especially since many people have discovered that they have enjoyed working from home far more than they might have imagined. It provides flexibility, but the biggest drawback is not being able to employ anyone to help you, so you must undertake every task yourself. I have not yet seen anywhere that says what happens if and when you go on holiday? Who will look after your clients then? Or must you put all client matters on hold while you go away. Will clients be happy with this? Of course, if you undertake non time-sensitive matters, this will not be a problem, but most legal matters have some sort of timescale around them. If you really want to scale a business and do less of the fee earning, the Sole Practitioner model will be the one to opt for. The freelance solicitor role does cap your potential earnings limit, wheres as a sole practitioner you can employ as many solicitors as you choose below you, allowing you to move into a management role and away from client facing duties. That will not be an option as a freelance solicitor, but as I say, that will suit many people.
Freelance Solicitor Or Consultant Solicitor?
The Consultant Solicitor model has proved incredibly popular in recent years. In this model you work under the umbrella of a law firm but run your own case load. If you choose to, you can employ people to work for you, so you can scale your income more than a freelance solicitor, but you still have the flexibility to work as and when you choose. If you want a holiday, you can engage a locum or a fellow consultant in your firm to cover for you. You can keep as much as 90% of what you bill, with the remainder going to the firm to cover insurance, bookkeeping and other administration costs. However, as a freelance solicitor you keep all of your billed costs, less your own expenses for case management software, bookkeeping and profesional indemnity insurance costs. It will be worth adding up your costs either as a consultant solicitor or a freelance solicitor to see which works best for you. If you operate as a freelance solicitor you can only trade under your own name, e.g. Grace Brown, whereas if you are a consultant solicitor, you trade under the name of the firm, e.g. Grace Bown, Smithers Jones Solicitors. As a marketing man I think of this from the clients viewpoint and I know that many clients feel a lot of comfort in dealing with a law firm. The Solicitor brand is well known and solid. Is dealing with Grace Brown, freelance solicitor, going to have the same pull? Only time will tell.
Winning Clients As A Freelance Solicitor
This is where there is very little difference. Marketing legal services is the same whether you are a large firm, a sole practitioner, a consultant solicitor or a freelance solicitor. You are selling your legal services to individuals or businesses. The most effective forms of marketing legal services for all of these different types of legal business models are the four main marketing arteries I discuss in the Law Firm Growth Formula:
- A website that grows consistently with articles answering your ideal clients’ questions, so that people can find you when looking for your services (SEO for solicitors);
- Google Ads if you want to drive more clients to that website and grow more quickly;
- Email marketing to your former clients and prospects looking for your services; and
- Referral marketing.
As with any start up legal service, there is one universal truth:
Your first clients will always come from your old contacts.
Therefore, the referrals and email marketing arteries are going to be your biggest friends at first. If I were going to become a freelance solicitor, this is how I would deal with referrals:
- Ensure my LinkedIn profile was as complete as it could be.
- Connect with every former colleague (a source of referrals) on LinkedIN
- Connect with every former client (source of instruction)
- Post weekly about your services (adding value/sharing client success stories etc)
- In each post, invite readers to discover more by visiting your website and downloading your free guide/brochure (which then adds them automatically to your email list).
I provide in depth training on this process inside Marketing4Solicitors, but that is it in a nutshell for winning your first clients as a freelance solicitor. Once you are up and running with some instructions, the next step will be to launch your Google My Business page and your own website. When it comes to websites, you can obtain a decent, easy to edit WordPress site for under £1,000. If anyone is quoting you more than this, you should try again. If you have purchased my book already, in the resources pack you receive, free of charge, a Legal Website Design Brief precedent. You simply fill in the blanks and send it to several website designers to obtain fixed price quotations. This document alone will save you hundreds or thousands on your website costs but more importantly will ensure that you are presented with a website that is fit for purpose (i.e. will produce new clients for you). Once you have your website, if you want to generate instant instructions, you can start a Google Ads campaign to drive people looking for your services to your website. Google Ads is a tricky topic to master, but if you want to generate a steady stream of new clients, it is one worth mastering. Once again, Marketing4Solicitors provides full training on Google Ads, along with how to write website content, how to come up with content ideas, email marketing and everything else you need to grow as a freelance solicitor.
Personally, I think it is exciting that solicitors now have far more choice in how they wish to practise, from employed to partner, sole practitioner, consultant solicitor, and now a freelance solicitor. I can see some solicitors trying every one of these roles during their career!
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